Reconstructing Wilhelm Reich’s formative years in Galicia and Bukovina
Stefan Hampl, Sigmund Freud University Vienna


Wilhelm Reich was one of Austria’s most talented, politically active and controversial psychoanalysts. Lesser know is the fact, that he was born and raised in small villages on the territory of present-day Ukraine. Recent research unveils, that Reich’s family belonged to a distinguished community of German Jewish settlers, whose ancestors had followed the call of emperor Joseph II to colonise Galicia and Bukovina. Reich’s father Leon managed a large agricultural establishment at the Austro-Hungarian border with the Russian empire. In this multi-ethnic and rural environment, Wilhelm frequently observes the free-spirited Ruthenian farmhands (particularly their natural approach to sexuality). Thus, Reich develops his own Rousseauian understanding of liberated human behaviour contrasting the constraints of modern civilisation. The formative memories of Galicia and Bukovina will later reappear in his scientific work: as psychological concepts, treatment techniques and critical socio-political positions. After the collapse of the Habsburg monarchy, Reich studies medicine in Vienna and is introduced to Sigmund Freud. He becomes the youngest and most aspiring member of the psychoanalytic association. Throughout Vienna he opens several sex-counselling clinics, where working-class-patients can obtain free help. Reich’s book “the mass psychology of fascism” is a provocation to the Nazi regime. All of his works are burnt the same year. After emigration to the USA he settles on farmland in the rural state of Maine—as if he was following the distant echo of Galicia and Bukovina. In Ukraine Wilhelm Reich has sunk into oblivion. It is time to reconnect to his cultural heritage.

Recent Publications

Гампль, Ш. (2019). Вільгельм Райх з Галичини: (ще) нема пророка у своїй вітчизні. Україна модерна

Hampl, S. (2017). Dobzauer Erinnerungen. Eine (Zeit-)Reise zum Geburtsort von Wilhelm Reich. [Memories of Dobrianychi. (Time) travelling to Wilhelm Reich‘s birth place]. In T. Slunecko, M. Wieser, & A. Przyborski (Eds.), Kulturpsychologie in Wien [Cultural Psychology in Vienna] (pp. 90–127). Vienna: Facultas publishing.

Conference applications

Hampl, S. (2019). Teaching Concept for the international workshop How to Teach Multiethnic and Transnational History: Ukraine, Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU), Lviv, Nov. 3-5 2019

Hampl, S. (2019). Reconstructing Wilhelm Reich’s formative years in Galicia and Bukovina. International conference Between Kyiv and Vienna, IWM, Dec. 2019

Hampl, S. (2017). Wilhelm Reich’s Time Machine. International conference What remains of Galicia? Continuities - Ruptures - Perspectives, University of Vienna, April 2018

Grant applications

Theater Project “Wilhelm Reich on Stage” (cooperation between Art Center Agov, Theater Les Kurbas, Lviv and Sigmund Freud University Vienna):

Filyak, Y., Oneshchak, O., Hampl, S. (2018). Proposal for grant program for national cooperations in Ukraine, British Council

Filyak, Y., Oneshchak, O., Hampl, S. (2017). Proposal for grant program on sustainable development in culture and education in Ukraine, Harold Binder Cultural Enterprises (HBCE)